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In Tuesday's primary, candidates are seeking to win delegates which will represent them at the two parties' national conventions later this year. But Missouri's distribution of those delegates differs between the two main parties. KSMU's Jennifer Moore explains.
Each election year, the Republican and Democratic parties at the state level have the option to decide on how to distribute the delegates won in their state's primary election.
This year, Missouri's Republican party has a total of 58 delegates to send to the Republican National Convention in September. The Missouri GOP has decided to go with a "winner take all" approach, meaning that whichever candidate earns the majority of votes in the primary, takes all 58 of Missouri's Republican delegates to the convention.
Paul Sloca, spokesperson of the Missouri Republican party, says he and his colleagues felt this was the best way to represent the voice of Missouri Republicans.
The Missouri Democratic party, however, has 72 delegates at stake in Missouri's primary. And as Jack Cardetti, spokesman of the Democratic party explains, those 72 will be distributed between the candidates, according to actual votes cast.
Here's where it gets a little tricky on the Democratic side: 25 of those 72 Democratic delegates will be based on a statewide percentage, looking at how Missouri voted as a whole. The remaining 47 will be distributed according to Missouri's congressional districts.
Dan Ponder is associate professor of political science at Drury University, and he makes sense of all this for a living.
"I think the Republicans' way of doing it, winner takes all, definitely gives advantage to larger competitive states," Ponder said.
Ponder said the national parties have a large say on how delegates are distributed, as is seen in history.
"Between 1968 and 1972, the Democrats implemented the so-called McGovern Frasier commission, and they mandated that, with very few exceptions, there would be proportional representation," Ponder said.
The Democratic National Convention is scheduled to convene in late August in Denver, and the Republican National Convention will be held in early September in Minneapolis-St.Paul.
For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.